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Just two driveways down from my studio, my neighbours have a suite with a basic kitchenette for only $65/night. There is an optional breakfast. My students have been very happy with their accommodations there and I always like to recommend them first. If you are interested, please request their email from me. They are old school and shy away from online listings.
Here are some other nearby options, listed by proximity (Air BnB is often cheaper with fewer frills):
Cedar Grove Farm B&B (email Becky at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Dreamweaver Bed and Breakfast (you get to stay in Cow Bay! Awesome!)
Traveling to the Island
If you are traveling by air to attend this workshop, know that I am happy to provide some items that are difficult to travel with (solvent, oil, drawing board, etc). If you are flying with paints, they must be checked. Seal them in a tupperware container and label the container with a very officious printed label that says “Plant Based Artist Materials.” Back this up with a printed MSDS sheet (it doesn’t matter what brand–use this one). You will seem so on top of the situation that anyone searching your bag because of a suspicious x-ray will happily release your luggage.
There are many ways to get to the Island. The Victoria International Airport is an hour from Duncan in fair traffic. The Nanaimo Airport is to the north and only half an hour away, although it unfortunately has fewer flights. Cars can be rented at either location. If you have a local pick up arranged and are traveling from Vancouver, consider flying in to Mayple Bay on Saltspring Air. Be sure to check beforehand that your luggage meets the weight limit.
There are several ferry lines to the Island. If traveling from mainland BC through Vancouver, you will be using the Metro Vancouver/Vancouver Island lines by BC Ferries. The Tsawassen terminal (mainland) has ferries to Swartz Bay (on the Saanich peninsula north of Victoria) and Duke Point (in Nanaimo). The Duke Point ferry takes two hours and is only a half hour drive from Duncan. The Swartz Bay ferry takes an hour and a half is over an hour’s drive from Duncan. The latter is your preferred route if you would like to stop over in Victoria on your way up island or visit the Butchart Gardens. If departing from the Horseshoe Bay terminal (mainland), you will arrive in Departure Bay, also in Nanaimo.
If driving from Washington State, you may choose to drive up through the mainland and cross at the Tsawassen terminal, or take the Black Ball Ferry Line (sometimes called the Coho Ferry) from Port Angeles, WA to Victoria. Dave and I prefer the latter route. Very scenic.
Whichever ferry route you choose, remember to book your ticket in advance. Leaving the Island on a Friday by ferry can sometimes be dicey without one.
While you’re on the Island, you may as well take in some of the sights.
Victoria is our picturesque provincial capital. In the downtown area near the Black Ball Ferry terminal there is the Robert Bateman Centre, the Royal BC Museum, and plenty of places to pick up cheesy Canadian souvenirs for people back home, side by side with non-cheesy, really beautiful crafts by artists from our local tribes, including Cowichan Valley sweaters, carvings, and jewellery. Several blocks north of there is the oldest Chinatown in Canada. Don Mee is my favourite place to get Dim Sum.
If you arrive via Swartz Bay or the Victoria International Airport, you will be driving down the Saanich peninsula towards Victoria before looping around and heading north to Duncan. It’s worth making a stop at the Butchart Gardens or the Victoria Butterfly Gardens.
In Duncan we have a wonderful raptor centre with a daily flight show at 1:30pm. It’s worth taking your camera or a sketchbook. We also have a number of wineries, cider breweries, and fine restaurants (I can suggest some when you arrive). If you visit nearby Cowichan Bay, be sure to sample the handmade ice cream, artisan cheese, and candied salmon. The bakery is excellent. There’s a charming neighborhood of float homes and kayak and killer whale tours.
Up Island, there is the magnificent Cathedral Grove (MacMillan Provincial Park) to take in. It’s worth making the trip to see this old growth forest. While there, stop in at Coombs to have a meal at Goats on a Roof. The Italian food is excellent.